Checkmate Violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank

by Jesus Serrano Redondo | jaserred | International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) - Switzerland
Monday, 25 July 2016 06:04 GMT

Jesus Serrano Redondo/ICRC

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Usaid Taki Al Deen Abed Al Baset is 6 years old and a resident of Hebron in the West Bank. According to Usaid, he has been playing chess for one year.

“I love chess because it helps me develop my mind, my abilities in time management, and my patience. I am the champion of the 6-year-old category and I am participating in an International Chess Competition in Dubai next week. I am so happy to represent Palestine in my category,” Usaid said after winning one of the nine rounds of a chess tournament held in Al Jib, a small village in the north west of Jerusalem, on 16 July.

The tournament was organized by the Palestinian Chess Federation and the Qattana and Al Jib sports youth clubs. Entitled "Together for Humanity", it was sponsored by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

76 players, whose ages ranged from six to over sixty, played nine rounds against each other. 13 champions were eventually crowned, with three of them under 15 years old.

Chess is a game requiring strategic skills and a high level of focus and discipline.

Chess is a game requiring strategic skills and a high level of focus and discipline.

“Chess for sure needs cleverness, willingness, strength and toughness. These psychological aspect help develop students’ personalities since they still are at an early age. It contributes to be a leader, to take the right decisions, to find ways to develop themselves, to be much more independent, and to be able to take decisions under pressure during the game,” said Diaa’ Ahmed Al Faqieh, a chess trainer for young groups.

Yara Fakieh, 17 years old, from Qattana village, is part of the chess team that represents Palestine in international tilts. She participated in the World Championship in Turkey in 2012 and Norway in 2014.

“Norway 2014 was an interesting championship with participants from all over the world. The players were well prepared and they had trainers supporting them. 150 countries participated at this World championship and we managed to step up 10 positions for Palestine in the World Ranking. It was a very good result if you think about the limited resources we have,” said Yara.

The tournament is part of a series of youth activities that the ICRC launched in Jerusalem in 2016. By engaging youth through sports and cultural activities, the ICRC aims to encourage self-expression and intellectual stimulation as an alternative to violence, as well as to raise awareness about the mandate and guiding principles of the ICRC – humanity, neutrality, and impartiality.

The trauma inflicted by the spiral of violence can affect the emotional development especially of the most vulnerable people, such as children and youth, and may result in mental health complications.

Past activities include a performance by the Palestinian Circus School in El-Hakawati theatre, which brought smiles to children’s faces in Jerusalem, where many of them are forced to grow up too fast.

Jesus Serrano Redondo is a media relations and spokesperson at the International Committee of the Red Cross in Jerusalem